Former Eagles DE Mike Mamula a Reminder that NFL Combine Performances Can Be Misleading

by Marc Narducci | Feb 26, 2020
Former Eagles DE Mike Mamula a Reminder that NFL Combine Performances Can Be Misleading
The NFL Combine is taking place this week and as always teams have to beware about what they see in the testing.
College football players spent an entire season showcasing their skills, but yet there will be players whose stock will improve or decrease due to their performance in what has been described as the “Underwear Olympics”
Remember Mike Mamula?
Eagles fans sure do.
Anytime a player has a huge workout and increases his stock, Mamula’s 1995 NFL Combine is remembered. Mamula was a 6-fot-5, 252-pound defensive end from Boston College.
At the Combine he bench pressed 224 pounds 28 times, but even more impressively he ran a 4.58 40-yard dash and had a vertical leap of 38.5 inches.
Before the Combine, he was likely going to be a third and maybe even a second round pick. Yet the Eagles were so enamored in his skill at the Combine that they traded up to draft him, sending the 12th overall pick in the draft and two second round selections to Tampa Bay for the seventh overall pick and a third round selection.
With the seventh pick in the draft, the Eagles selected Mamula. (To make matters worse, with the 12th overall pick that Tampa Bay got from the Eagles, the Buccaneers selected Warren Sapp, who would become an NFL Hall of Fame defensive tackle).
Mamula wasn’t a total bust. He recorded 31.5 sacks in his five seasons with the Eagles.
In two seasons he had eight or more sacks, with 8.0 in 1996 and 8.5 in 1999.
Consider that this past season the Eagles sack leader was Brandon Graham with 8.5 and Mamula’s production doesn’t seem that bad.
Yet, he was also associated with his Combine grades and there was always the feeling that for the seventh overall selection, the Eagles reached by taking him that high.
The fact that Sapp had such great success didn’t help the story either.
Besides being a member of the NFL Hall of Fame, Sapp, who was a standout at the University of Miami, earned seven Pro Bowl berths and was named All-Pro Four times.
He spent 13 years in the NFL, nine with Tampa and four with the Oakland Raiders. Despite being a defensive tackle, where sacks are presumably harder to accumulate, he recorded 96.5 in his carer and had five seasons of nine or more.
Eagles fans won’t recall the 2002 season very fondly and Sapp was a major reason why. That season Sapp earned Pro Bowl honors and first-team All-Pro honors with 7.5 sacks and two interceptions. (Yes that wasn’t a misprint on the interceptions. Sapp had four for his career, half of them in that season).
In the NFC Championship game that season, despite being favored and at home, the Eagles lost to Sapp and the Buccaneers, 27-10.
Tampa Bay would then win the Super Bowl that season.
By that 2002 season Mamula was out of the NFL. Again, he has a serviceable career, but never lived up to his high draft billing.

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There have been others since that had outstanding Combine performances that didn’t translate in the NFL, but Mamula is the one associated the most.

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Author: Marc Narducci


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